Good Friday

Doctor of the Church Gregory of Narek has a wonderful prayer reflection on Good Friday.

Prayer 77
Speaking with God from the Depths of the HeartA
Since today is a blessed day,
when morning came twice dividing day into
equal parts,
when the passing creatures of the earth
were transformed into a different and heavenly immutable beings,
when the high were laid low and the
humble raised up,
making this the most awesome day of Lent, Holy Friday,
when it is fitting for me to write
this prayer voicing joy mixed with terror, therefore
I think it appropriate to speak now of
the suffering you endured for me, God of all.

B
You stood, with my nature, before a tribunal of
your creatures, and did not speak, giver of speech.
You did not utter a word, creator of tongues.
You did not release your voice, shaker of the world.
You did not make a sound, trumpet of majesty.
You did not answer back with accounts of
your good deeds.
You did not silence them with their wrongs.
You did not deliver your betrayer to death.
You did not struggle when bound.
You did not squirm when whipped.
You did not fight back when spat upon.
You did not resist when beaten.
You did not take affront when mocked.
You did not frown when ridiculed.

They stripped you of your cloak, as from a weakling,
and dressed you like a condemned prisoner.
If my Lord had not been forced twice to drink vinegar and gall, he would not have been able to cleanse me of the accumulated bile of our forefathers.
He tasted heartbreak and did not waver.
They dragged him violently and brought him
back disrespectfully.
They condemned him, humiliated him by flogging
before a motley crowd.
They knelt before him in ridicule
and put a crown of disdain upon his head.

C
They gave you no rest, Life-giver,
even forcing you to bear the instrument of your death.
You accepted with forbearance.
You received it with sweetness.
You bore it with patience.
You submitted to the wooden cross of grief,
like one condemned.
Like a lily of the field, you shouldered the
weapon of life,
so that your throne in my body might be protected
against the terrors of the night
turning the last judgment into a joyful banquet.
They led him out like a sacrificial lamb.
They hung him like Isaac’s ram whose horns were caught in the thicket.
They spread him on the table of the cross like a sacrifice.
They nailed him like a common criminal.

They persecuted you, like an outlaw, treating
you in your serenity, like a bandit,
you in your majesty, like a miserable wretch,
you who are adored by cherubim,
like a despised man,
you who are the definition of life, like one
deserving of a slaughter,
you, the author of the Gospels, like one
who blasphemed the Law,
you, the Lord and the fulfillment of the prophets,
like one who cut the Scriptures,
you, the radiance of glory and the image of
the mystery of the Father, beyond mortal
understanding, as if you are the adversary
of the will of him who bore you,
you who are blessed, like someone banished,
you who came to release the bonds of the Law,
like a heretic,
you, the consuming fire, like a
condemned prisoner,
you who inspire awe in heaven and earth,
like one deserving punishment,
you, covered in unapproachable light, like
some earthly quarry

D
O, sweet Lord,
forbearing doer of good, merciful and compassionate,
Lord of all, who for the sake of infirm and unruly
servants like me submitted to everything willingly
according to your plan
together with your perfectly human body,
submitted even to the sleepy tomb of the sepulchre,
who lack nothing of divine perfection, being identical with
God who is beyond human understanding,
yet bore human indignity with patience beyond words,
you rose with your body, alive and of your own power,
In exalted light, with undiminished humanity
and flawless divinity.
You are blessed for your glory
praised for your compassion,
and always exalted for your mercy,
forever and ever.
Amen.

Saint Joseph’s Day

This is the Italian equivalent of St. Patrick’s Day traditionally on March 19th. Traditionally you wear red and set up a St. Joseph altar. This is about all I know about the feast since Patrick gets the lions share of the press around this time of year. However Joseph is someone that we all tend to forget about, he isn’t in the Bible much and we hardly talk about him at all. Much of the focus goes to Jesus and Mary, so let us all remember Saint Joseph today. There are a bunch of prayers to St. Joseph, and nothing really has stuck like St. Patrick’s Breastplate. The first one is prayed as a novena to St. Joseph:

Oh, Saint Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires.

Oh, Saint Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession, and obtain for me from your Divine Son all spiritual blessings, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, So that, having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most Loving of Fathers.

Oh, Saint Joseph, I never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss his fine head for me and ask him to return the Kiss when I draw my dying breath.

Saint Joseph, Patron of departed souls – pray for me. (Mention your intention) Amen.

This other one was given to us by Pope Leo XIII as a prayer to add to the end of the Rosary especially during the month of October.

To you, O blessed Joseph,
do we come in our tribulation,
and having implored the help of your most holy Spouse,
we confidently invoke your patronage also.

Through that charity which bound you
to the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God
and through the paternal love
with which you embraced the Child Jesus,
we humbly beg you graciously to regard the inheritance
which Jesus Christ has purchased by his Blood,
and with your power and strength to aid us in our necessities.

O most watchful guardian of the Holy Family,
defend the chosen children of Jesus Christ;
O most loving father, ward off from us
every contagion of error and corrupting influence;
O our most mighty protector, be kind to us
and from heaven assist us in our struggle
with the power of darkness.

As once you rescued the Child Jesus from deadly peril,
so now protect God’s Holy Church
from the snares of the enemy and from all adversity;
shield, too, each one of us by your constant protection,
so that, supported by your example and your aid,
we may be able to live piously, to die in holiness,
and to obtain eternal happiness in heaven.

Amen.

Saint Patrick’s Day

This is a reminder to wear some green today as St. Patrick’s is that one day of the year where everyone celebrates their own Irishness. Some do this by drinking copious amounts of green beer, eating corned beef and cabbage or simply by wearing the green. How ever you want to celebrate the life of a Saint. Patrick according to legends taught the trinity using a shamrock, driving the snake from Ireland, and his walking stick grew into a tree. The Breastplate of St. Patrick is a prayer that is associated with him.  This is the shorter modern version of the prayer that can fit on a prayer card

I arise today through
God’s strength to pilot me, God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me, God’s eye to see before me,
God’s ear to hear me, God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me, God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me, God’s host to secure me –
against snares of devils,
against temptations and vices,
against inclinations of nature,
against everyone who shall wish me
ill, afar and anear,
alone and in a crowd…
Christ, be with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ where I lie, Christ where I sit,
Christ where I arise, Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.
Salvation is of the Lord.
Salvation is of the Lord.
Salvation is of the Christ.
May your salvation, O Lord, be ever with us.

Book of Esther part 2: Haman’s plot against the Jews

Last week I went through the first bit of Esther, this week we look at the plots.

After all this had happened the King, perhaps Xerxes, promoted Haman to be like the Prime Minister in the country and all the king’s servants were told by the king to bow to Haman. Mordecai did not. The other servants told Haman and when he noticed the slight was filled with fury. Haman learned that Mordecai was a Jew and sought to destroy all the Jews. Haman cast Pur (lots) and through this decided that all Jews will be destroyed on the 13th of Adar. Haman put this before the king and sort of approved it. Haman will pay 10 thousand talents of silver for this to be done. So on the 13th day of Nisan, the first month of the Hebrew calendar and wrote the edict to go out across the kingdom. The next chapter is a copy of the edict, that all Jews, with their wives and children, will be destroyed by the sword of their enemies, without pity or mercy, on the 14th of Adar, the last month of the year. Mordecai and the Jewish people rent their clothes, put on ashes and sackcloth, and wailed. Esther eventually learned about the edict through a very clumsy game of telephone through one of the King’s eunuchs, Hathach. Esther decides that Mordecai and the Jewish people should fast on her behalf, and neither eating or drinking for three days. Esther and my maids will also fast, then she will go to the king, though it is against the law; and if I perish, I perish.

We are then treated to two prayers one from Mordecai and the other from Esther. In Mordecai’s prayer we learn that he didn’t bow because he didn’t want to set a Man above God.  He continues and asks the Lord to spare his people once again for their death was before their eyes. Esther also turned to the Lord, she took off her fancy garments and put on garments of distress and mourning, as well as covering herself with ashes and dung instead of perfume. In Esther’s prayer which is read the Thursday of the first week of Lent, we hear her asking for the Lord to put eloquent speech in her mouth, and turn the king’s heart to hate the man who is fighting against us, so that there may be an end of Haman and those who agree with him. “Save us from the hand of our enemies; turn our mourning into gladness and our sorrows into wholeness.” This is a powerful prayer and it is really a shame that we don’t hear from Esther on Sundays. On the third day the fast was over and Esther put on her royal robes and with two handmaidens entered the king wasn’t too happy about this to begin with and Esther fainted. The king dashed to Esther and told her that she would be die as it only applied to those people. As she tried to respond she collapsed and as she regained strength asked that the King and Haman join her for dinner. Now, Haman saw Mordecai by the King’s gate and Mordecai wasn’t cowering or kowtowing before Haman so he went home and was pissed. Haman gathered together his friend and wife and after talking about how wonderful he is but Haman wouldn’t be happy unless Mordecai bowed down before him. His wife and friends suggest why not hang Mordecai in the morning and then go to dinner with the king in the evening.

It is still sort of weird going between the extended verses and the regular ones as they are often time saying basically the same thing twice. This is an interesting story and it is a shame that we only hear like six verses from it on a Thursday in Lent.

Immaculata prayer

This is a prayer written by Maximilian Kolbe, one of the Saints of World War II. Maximilian Kolbe was a Conventual Franciscan (Greyfriars) who volunteered to die in the place of a stranger at Auschwitz. He is a pretty cool saint and Pope John Paul II named him “The Patron Saint of Our Difficult Century”. The prayer is a consecration to the Immaculata, Mary the Immaculate. I hope that we all can remember to turn to Mary of Mother when we are in need. The prayer comes in two forms the long one is:

Immaculata, Queen of Heaven and earth, refuge of sinners and our most loving Mother, God has willed to entrust the entire order of mercy to you. I, (name), a repentant sinner, cast myself at your feet, humbly imploring you to take me with all that I am and have, wholly to yourself as your possession and property. Please make of me, of all my powers of soul and body, of my whole life, death and eternity, whatever most pleases you.

If it pleases you, use all that I am and have without reserve, wholly to accomplish what was said of you: “She will crush your head,” and “You alone have destroyed all heresies in the whole world.” Let me be a fit instrument in your immaculate and merciful hands for introducing and increasing your glory to the maximum in all the many strayed and indifferent souls, and thus help extend as far as possible the blessed kingdom of the most Sacred Heart of Jesus. For wherever you enter you obtain the grace of conversion and growth in holiness, since it is through your hands that all graces come to us from the most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

V. Allow me to praise you, O Sacred Virgin       R. Give me strength against your enemies

Or there is a shorter version of the prayer for daily renewal of the consecration which is as follows:

Immaculata, Queen and Mother of the Church, I renew my consecration to you for this day and for always, so that you might use me for the coming of the Kingdom of Jesus in the whole world. To this end I offer you all my prayers, actions and sacrifices of this day.

Prayer to Saint Michael

I’ve got a soft spot for this prayer, growing up I went to school at Saint Michael’s from first to eight grade. I’m sure at some point we were taught the prayer and we’d pray it like when we would attend one of the daily Masses during like Lent not on a first Friday or something, It’s been a while since I was there. Anyways the prayer is one of the Leonine Prayers that Pope Leo XIII added after the celebration of a low mass, now this tradition was ended during Vatican II, however to this day we still have some individuals who pray some type of prayer after a low Mass.  This prayer is as follows:

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle,
be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil;
may God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host,
by the power of God, cast into hell
Satan and all the evil spirits
who prowl through the world seeking the ruin of souls.

Although no longer prescribe for after a low Mass, Pope John Paul II in one of his Regina Caeli addresses on 24 April 1994 where he said “‘Although this prayer is no longer recited at the end of Mass, I ask everyone not to forget it and to recite it to obtain help in the battle against the forces of darkness and against the spirit of this world.” So if you have some time learn this prayer it a pretty neat prayer and as the world seems to be on the brink it is always nice to have an archangel on our side.

Signum Magnum

Signum Magnum is an Apostolic Exhortation from Pope Paul VI in it which Paul VI renewed the consecration of the World to Mary which was made in 1942. Next year will be the 75th anniversary of  of Pius XII’s consecration, and it seems likely that Francis will be doing something with Mary next year with the huge anniversary at Fatima. The Exhortation focuses on Mary, to put it simply Mary is the Mother of the Church, we should pray more and renew our personal consecration to the Immaculate Heart.

Paul VI begins with highlighting the past doctrine on Mary and sums it up as “without wishing to restate here . . . the traditional doctrine of the Church regarding the function of the Mother of God on the plane of salvation and her relations with the Church, we believe that, if we dwell on the consideration of two truths which are very important for the renewal of Christian life, we would be doing something of great utility for the souls of the faithful.” He them moves to the idea that Mary is the Mother of the Church and goes into great detail on this. This is followed by eight points of focus. The point are pretty obvious if you’ve read any Marian literature. Like how we should imitate Mary in our lives and how prays are Through Mary to Jesus. Paul VI hopes that Mary can be used as a key in our relationship with the Eastern Churches as Mary seems to have long been the key to the faith.

Let us bring Mary into our life and try to be Mary to the world around us. Hopefully, Our Heavenly Mother can help guide us in time of trouble. As she is always there for us.

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The week the reading come from Sirach 35:12-14, 16-18; Psalm 34; Paul’s second letter to Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18 and Luke’s gospel 18:9-14.

We have yet another parable this week it’s the pharisee and the tax collector, this is the one where the Pharisee and the Publican are at the Temple. The Pharisee goes up front and prays “Thank the Lord I’m so great, I fast and tithe unlike that tax collector over there, he’s so bad.” while the tax collector stays in the back and prays “O Lord have mercy on me a sinner.” Jesus then tells us that it is the Tax Collector went home justified. This echos the message from Sirach and in the Psalm The Lord hears the call of the poor for a prayer doesn’t rest until it reaches its goal. This is something difficult in society today as we are constantly bombarded with people and thing which want to put us on top, however we must remain humble in all that we do. We remember in Micah 6:8 we read the mission statement for all Christians “Live Justly, Love Tenderly, Walk Humbly with God“. Let us keep the idea of humility in our minds and hearts as the elections in the United States draw to a close.

Laetitiae Sanctae

Laetitae Sanctae is another one of Leo XIII encyclical on the Rosary it is like several of the others which are implore the praying of the rosary in October. Pope Leo notes that the praying of the rosary devoutly not only helps the individual but also but society as a whole as well.  His holiness goes on to say that there are three obstacles that arise in the world “first, the distaste for a simple and labourious life; secondly, repugnance to suffering of any kind; thirdly, the forgetfulness of the future life.” These are tied to the mysteries of the Rosary.

The first, the distaste for poverty relates to the joyful mysteries where we focus on Christ as a child. So much of society says that we need to amass riches so we can buy this or that to become a better person and we should “work smarter not hard”. However it takes hard work to get rich. As we look at these mysteries we see “simplicity and purity of conduct, perfect agreement and unbroken harmony, mutual respect and love – not of the false and fleeting kind – but that which finds both its life and its charm in devotedness of service.” This is what we need to bring into the world.

The second, repugnance to suffering relates to the sorrowful mysteries where we focus on the Passion of Christ. It is sad that violence has become so pervasive that in just about every movie it seem features some horrible act of violence, or really just turning on the news we hear of some murder. Society as a whole has become desensitized to it even when most of us haven’t seen it in person we’ve all seen it in the movie and television programs we watch. Sure we understand that violence is bad but we often forget about the suffering and grief left behind. Yet we must remember the actions of Jesus and follow in his footsteps, as St. Thomas says in the gospel “Let us also go, that we might die with him” (John 11:16)

The third and last one, forgetfulness of the future relates to the glorious mysteries where the focus turns to the resurrection and life in heaven. All too often we look to the future and our own personal safety with a mix of materialism and nationalism. Here is where the problem arises the militarization of individuals to serve their nation, but at the neglect of the world as a whole. We are all in the same boat and the more people rocking it the sooner we will capsize. Pope Leo put is as we may doubt if “God could inflict upon man a more terrible punishment than to allow him to waste his whole life in the pursuit of earthly pleasures, and in forgetfulness of the happiness which alone lasts for ever.” Let us remember the eternal banquet that awaits us all.

Pope Leo then talks a bit about Rosary confraternities calling them the battalions who fight the battle of Christ under the direction of the Virgin Mother noting the victory at Lepanto. This, the rosary,  is the Hope of the Church. Let us all take some time and pull out a rosary and pray it.

Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

This week the readings come from Exodus 17:8-13, Psalm 121, Paul’s second letter to Timothy 3:14-4:2 and Luke’s gospel 18:1-8.

The main idea behind the readings this week is Perseverance. We are given several examples in all of the readings, First we have in Exodus the story of how Moses helped win the war against Amalek by keeping his hand up. In the Psalm we are reminded that our help comes from the Lord, Paul tells us to be inspired by the Bible since that is where Wisdom come from. Finally we have an interesting parable the Unjust Judge isn’t afraid of God or respected any person but this one widow continually came to the judge to ask for help. The judge continually refused but eventually he gave in and gave a judgement because he fears the widow many come and hit him eventually if nothing come of her repeated requests. This parable is often used to remind us of the importance of prayer in our lives for just as the judge eventually responded to the request of the widow so too will the Lord hear and answer our prayers. However, even when we are sitting there without hearing a reply to our prayers we need to remember to be like Moses and keep going for our strength is the Lord. We should keep this in mind when we are waiting for our prayers to be answered, to keep praying. Keep the faith even though the way we want our prayers to be answered may not be the way that the Lord will answer them.